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News10th October 2023

Ark schools chosen for groundbreaking Arts education pilot in Hastings

Clore Duffield Foundation funding to support cultural learning hubs in Ark schools

Major arts and education funder, the Clore Duffield Foundation, is supporting a pilot project with Ark to develop a new approach to arts education. Over the next year, Ark will work with local and national artists and arts organisations to give all pupils the chance to develop their creativity.

The work kicked-off last week with a dedicated inset day for staff from Ark’s four Hastings schools: Ark Alexandra Academy, Ark Blacklands Primary Academy, Ark Castledown Primary Academy and Ark Little Ridge Primary Academy. Staff worked with trainers from national, regional and local arts organisations to get new insights into the way they can bring arts into all parts of the curriculum.

Punchdrunk Enrichment, a national organisation that grew out of the world’s leading immersive theatre company, South East Dance and Hastings art collective, Radiator Arts, orchestrated an inspiring day of training for the 40 teachers involved in the project.

The school teams also met Sam Ayre for the first time. Ayre is an artist and documentarian will work with the schools throughout this project to capture their experiences.

Kate Bellamy, Director of the Clore Duffield Foundation said:

“We believe that an excellent arts education is essential for children, young people and the creative industries to thrive. The Foundation has spent the past twenty years supporting cultural institutions to create Clore Learning Spaces for arts education. But not all schools and families can easily access these. So, we are partnering with Ark Schools to explore how Multi Academy Trusts can develop inspiring arts education programmes, ensuring all their pupils benefit. We chose to work with Ark Schools since they have a strong track record for music education, excellent leadership and national reach.”

Margaret O’Shea, Head of Creative and Extended Curriculum at Ark said:

“Too often we see arts education as a ‘nice to have’ but for us it is an absolute essential for every child. We want all our students to have the opportunity to be creative and to express themselves boldly as the arts so powerfully allow. This project is an exciting opportunity to take a genuinely new approach. Connecting schools with arts organisations is not a new idea, but we are going to these organisations and asking them to shift completely to the school’s perspective and asking them to find ways to bring their creativity – whether it is theatre, dance, music or the visual arts – into the classroom.”

Joanne Skapinker, Immersive Learning Producer, Punchdrunk Enrichment, added:

“We’re proud to be part of this pilot sharing our approach to immersive learning with schools. Our projects nurture the creativity of both pupils and teachers, transforming education settings into spaces for adventure and wonder. We know that access to this work improves learning outcomes and wellbeing, and we’re looking forward to getting started.”

The project will see a range of arts initiatives and partnerships trialled over the school year, culminating in an arts festival in Hastings in July. If you can support or want to find out more, please contact